Pat’s Product Review: All American Sun Oven

It goes something like this, “one is none, two is one, and three is two!” No, that’s not new math – although these days, it could be with all the insane things they are now teaching in public schools. What I’m talking about relates to survival. If you have one of “something” and it breaks, you lose it, or whatever happens to it, you have none. If you have two of “something” and one goes south, then you still have one. If you have three of “something” then if one stops working, you still have two to fall back on. Makes a lot of sense if you stop and think about it.
I thankfully, don’t have just one firearm, I have several – not nearly as many folks believe I have. I’m not a gun collector, I’m a habitual gun trader. So, if one of my firearms breaks, is stolen, gets lost – whatever – I still have a few to fall back on. If you’re a Prepper, you need to have something to fall back on, be it firearms, extra food, extra water, or just about anything – you need to have a Plan B and a Plan C, if you want to survive. When it comes to cooking, my family and I have several methods with which to cook our foods. We of course, have our electric range in the kitchen. We also have a rocket stove, we have a propane BBQ grill, we have a propane camp stove, and we have some small compact little camp stoves that fit in our backpacks, so we pretty much have things covered when it comes to cooking, one is none, two is one and three is two, right?
I received the All-American Sun Oven for testing some months back, and it is a must have as far as I’m concerned if you’re into prepping for the bad times that are coming – the bad times that are already here. Sure, there’s a lot of foods you can eat cold – but not much fun. However, many foods need to be cooked before you can eat them. For many years, I read about home made solar ovens or cookers, and I always meant to get around to building one – never did! Just seemed like a good idea to have the sun do my cooking for me, and it can also help save on your power bills, by allowing the sun to do your cooking – for free!
Now, you can not only cook in the Sun Oven, you can also bake, dehydrate, steam foods or boil water – for making it safe to drink – have I caught your attention, yet? Good! The Sun Oven can reach temperatures from between 460 and 500 degrees, without fear of burning your foods, like a conventional oven can. I like the idea of being able to dehydrate foods – without having to plug-in our food dehydrators, they are noisy and take a long time to dehydrate at times, depends on what you are trying to dehydrate.
For the past 28-years of so, Sun Ovens have been widely used around the world in more than 126-countries, and have become the world’s most well respected cooking appliance, especially in third world countries, where, well, to put it quite simply, they have no electricity or gas for cooking – they cook over open fires, while not a bad way to cook, it’s not controllable and you are dependent on a fuel source. With the Sun Oven, your fuel is the sun!
Now, that’s not say that the Sun Oven if perfect, and you can cook on it 365-days per year, you can’t! You are dependent upon the sun, and in my part of Oregon – the wet side, we have about 8-months of rain and overcast days – that’s not to say, we don’t see the sun for 8-months, we do – but not on a daily basis. So, we come back to one is none, two is one and three is two – when it comes to sources for cooking meals. On days when the sun isn’t out, we can cook on our electric stove, or if the power is out, we can cook on our little propane cook stove – which we do when the power goes out. Or we can cook using our rocket stove, that takes very little fuel – and we have plenty of trees on our homestead to use for fuel. So, we have a back-up plan, to our back-up plan when it comes to having a means to cook our food. In many areas of the country, you might have sunshine 365-days per year, and you can use your Sun Oven for many of your cooking needs.
The Sun Oven in American-made weighs about 22 pounds, and is large enough for most of your baking and cooking needs, and it is fairly compact. The E-Z Sun-track indicators – big term for a little device that allows you to set-up the Sun Oven to take advantage of the proper placement and alignment of the sun’s rays. The front cover on the Sun Oven is 25% thicker than the glass on previous models, for increased shatter resistance and it also improves the insulation properties of the oven. The body of the Sun Oven appears to be made out of fiberglass, and it is sturdy, it should give you a lifetime of cooking use, assuming you don’t abuse your oven – as in dropping it on a hard surface, where it might crack. The reflectors, and there are four of them, that surround the over, are designed to direct the sunlight directly into the Sun Oven. There are also wind resistant alignment legs with ground stakes, that allows you to raise or lower the oven’s orientation to meet the sun on the horizon – really, it takes a minute to set it up, easy to do!
The model of Sun Oven I received is the basic model, and it only came with a dual purpose leveling rack, which hangs inside the oven and swings freely to prevent spilling food in a pot on the rack. It can also be set on the floor of the oven to increase the usable area inside the Sun Oven – again, easier done than explained.
Okay, enough of the “technical” stuff, so how does the Sun Oven work in practice? Well, I’m not a baker, my wife does all the baking around our place, but I am a cook, and a good one, at that. I do a lot of the cooking at our home, I enjoy it! Over the period of several months, we used the Sun Oven for baking breads and pies, and it works just as advertised, and the outside temps do not have to be hot at all – all you need is the sunlight being reflected into the oven to do your cooking. It doesn’t matter if the temps are freezing or super hot – the oven will still cook for you, so long as the sun is able to hit the reflectors. Yes, in cooler temps, your cooking time takes a little bit longer, but not much, and on hotter days, your cooking time is less. We also boiled water – the Sun Oven web site says you can boil water to purify it, but we wanted to test it ourselves, and in short order, a pot of cold water was boiling.
I love pizza – it’s my favorite food – followed by a good Chicago-style hot dog, then a good burger. Yeah, my eating needs are rather simple compared to most folks, I guess I’m easy to please. We baked pizzas in our oven, as well as “roasting” hot dogs and “frying” burgers. And, one thing you will notice is that, you foods are much more moist when cooked in the Sun Oven, compared to other cooking methods – especially breads and cakes.
There is a wealth of information on the Sun Oven, on their web site, be sure to check it out – you’ll literally spend hours there watching videos and reading all the cool stuff about the oven. What is most amazing is, the simplicity of the Sun Oven, the darn thing works and works and works as advertised – so long as you have sunlight, you can cook. In a SHTF scenario, you have a way of cooking when the power goes down, and one of the nice things about the oven is, with much of the foods you cook inside the oven enclosure, it won’t give away to the neighbors or the bad guys that you are cooking. They aren’t going to smell the burgers cooking on a barbeque – little or no smoke or aroma to drift from your location. And, best of all, you are cooking for free – no other source of fuel is required, only the sun! Right now, we are just getting to the end of a heat wave in our part of Oregon, and we honestly didn’t want to do any cooking or baking inside the house, it was hot enough. So, the wife placed the Sun Oven in the front yard and we did most of our cooking there – keeping the house a little bit cooler.
The only drawback I can see is that, as already mentioned, you can’t cook in the Sun Oven all the time – if you don’t have sunny days. That is where we revert back to our one is none, two is one and three is two rule – you have different methods for cooking your meals, just in case the sun isn’t out on a particular day, you can still cook by another means – if you have prepared and have other means available for cooking and baking.  I like the idea of being able to cook and bake in one device. On my little propane camp stove, I can cook – yeah, they make an attachment for baking, but it’s so small, I don’t honestly know what I can bake in it. With the Sun Oven, you can bake and cook.
I received the base model Sun Oven, and it only came with the leveling rack – nothing more, and it sells for $349 – a bit steep you might say? No, not if you look at all the benefits you get by using the sun to do your cooking, and in a SHTF scenario, you’d give anything to have a Sun Oven to do you cooking and baking. And, if you stop and think about all the money you’ll save by allowing the sun to do your cooking, you will recoup the investment in the Sun Oven. However, I would pop for the $399 Sun Oven model, as you get an entire host of accessories with it. Yes, you can purchase the accessories separately, but it is a huge savings if you purchase the $399 model over the basic one – well worth the extra $50 if you ask me.
If you’re planning on cooking or baking when the power grid goes down – for whatever reason – you absolutely, must get your hands on the Sun Oven. And, as an added benefit, it’s just a lot of plain ol’ fun cooking in the Sun Oven, and it’s fun to experiment – we haven’t gotten around to doing any dehydrating with out Sun Oven, but we will. Honestly, this is a worth while investment to add if you are a Prepper, or just someone who wants to save money by not using your kitchen stove all the time. Simple – get one! – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio